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Chinese Zodiac Calendar

Most people’s understanding of the Chinese Zodiac Calendar doesn't extend beyond what they see on the paper placemats that cover the tables of their favorite Chinese restaurants. But there really is much more to know about this doctrine that dates back more than 2,000 years.

Most Chinese Zodiac Calendar discussions focus only on the 12 animals. According to legend, these were the animals that appeared before Buddha (or the Jade Emperor, depending on the story) in response to an invitation. The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac represent the order of each animal’s arrival. The legends depicting each animal’s journey differ slightly, but the order that prevails is as follows: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

These 12 animals represent the rotating 12-year cycle that is the basis of the Chinese Zodiac. You’ve probably heard reference to a particular year being the “Year of the Rabbit” or “Year of the Pig.”

But here’s what people don’t learn from most Chinese Zodiac Calendar discussions. In addition to the 12 animals, the Chinese Zodiac involves 5 elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. These elements are associated with the 5 major planets Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn, respectively. The combinations presented by these 5 elements and the 12 animals actually combine to create a 60-year cycle. This cycle, along with Yin and Yang, directions, the positions of the sun and moon, and a person’s date and time of birth are all used to help foresee a person’s future.

Something else that people don’t understand from most Chinese Zodiac overviews is that it is based on the Chinese New Year which does not begin on January 1. The date varies but typically is towards the end of January. Therefore, when determining the correct animal, most people born during the month of January should be included as part of the previous year. Also, the 12 phases that make up the Chinese year are lunar months, coinciding with the appearance of each New Moon.

While the major players in the Chinese Zodiac are the 12 animals, it is the various combinations of animals, yin and yang, birth date and time, and the elements that help establish a person’s inner and outer self. This combination is also what helps determine a person’s personality traits, compatibility, and his good (or bad) fortune. To fully understand the Chinese Zodiac, it’s important to understand the relationship between all the elements, something most people don’t get from the typical Chinese Zodiac Calendar explanation.

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Chinese Zodiac History

Legends and mythology are a big part of Chinese culture, especially in relation to the Chinese Zodiac. The 12 animals that appear on the Chinese Zodiac calendar include a rat, ox (buffalo), tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram (sheep, goat), monkey, rooster, dog and pig. It’s an unusual combination of animals for sure, and their appearance on the Chinese Zodiac is the topic of countless legends and is deeply embedded in Chinese mythology.

Chinese Zodiac Animals

Most stories do seem to agree on one thing: the animals that make up the signs, or the 12 equal parts of the Chinese Zodiac, were the animals that appeared in response to an invitation. As a reward for appearing, these 12 animals were included on the Chinese Zodiac. As interesting as the story of the animals is, there’s much more to the origin of the Chinese Zodiac than that.

Chinese Zodiac Elements

Much of Chinese philosophy is built around the belief in the five elements and their abilities to interact with and create relationships between natural phenomena. The five elements have been part of Chinese culture almost from the beginning. Interestingly, few people outside the Asian world understand the importance of the five elements, especially how each relates to the workings of the Chinese Zodiac.

Chinese Astrology

Astrology has for years played a significant role in Chinese culture. The depiction on a circular chart of 12 different animals representing the 12-year cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar was built on the foundation of astronomy and Chinese astrology which has itself been in existence for over 5,000 years.

Chinese Zodiac Chart

Along with birth year animals, the Chinese Zodiac also represents inner animals and secret animals. We’re probably all aware of the 12 animals or signs depicted on the Chinese Zodiac. Based on our year of birth, we understand that we’re born under the sign of the Dog, or the Ox, or one of the 10 other signs. But the truth is it’s the inner animals and the secret animals that actually tell the most about who we really are and what our futures hold.

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Feng Shui

What does Chinese Feng Shui have to do with the Chinese Zodiac? More than you probably realize. Both Feng Shui and the Chinese Zodiac are based in part on the interactions of the 5 elements on one’s destiny. These 5 elements of metal, water, wood, fire and Earth have been a driving force in Chinese culture for thousands of years.

The 12 Signs

These 12 animals represent the rotating 12-year cycle that is the basis of the Chinese Zodiac. You’ve likely heard reference to a particular year being the “Year of the Rabbit” or “Year of the Pig.” Displayed below are the characteristics of those born in the year of the listed animals. Click on the link (the animal name) to find out more about each of the signs.

Click here to check your sign

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